Gymnastics Story

Serena Fink, Reporter

Gymnastics, like all sports, presents risk of injury but in the last few months the sport has given reason to wonder how safe it really is.

“Some of the injuries I have suffered doing gymnastics are pinched nerves in my neck, I have had bones pop out of my ankle, I have strained my neck and I have had a tear in my achilles tendon,” junior and varsity gymnast Madison Near said. “I also have bad ankles and have had reoccurring injuries to both my ankles and back. Gymnastics is really stressful on your body because you are doing a lot of pounding on yourself. It really takes a toll.”

Like many sports, there are ways the Puyallup School District goes about taking care of its athletes and their safety.

“Every coach is required to have a current first-aid and CPR card,” Athletic Director Lisa Muiznieks said. “The district also has regulations put in place for an athlete that is injured during their season. If they play a sport that has high concussion rates like gymnastics, soccer, football or wrestling they are seen by our trainer because those people are on site during the contests.”

Likewise gymnastics follows the mantra of safety first.

“To prevent injury in gymnastics we do a lot of conditioning to keep the girls strong and make sure that their joints are mobile enough. The warm-up piece is also very important,” former gymnast and gymnastics coach Noelle Frederick said. “As far as recovery goes, if the gymnast is injured we would rather them go to a therapist or go do physical therapy because those people are the professionals but we certainly tape and ice ankles.”

Injuries do happen and in gymnastics it occurs in a different magnitude.

“Gymnastics is a sport based on making mistakes and then trying to learn from those mistakes so there are all kinds of bumps, bruises, sprains and strains,” Muiznieks said. “I think injuries are a little more frequent in gymnastics than other sports because of the nature of what they are doing. Yes there are crash pads and tons of safety equipment but you are going to bonk yourself on the beam or not land exactly how you want to and hurt yourself.”

Even though injuries do occur it should not keep people from enjoying the sport.

“I am all for gymnastics. But I think you certainly need to be safe. I think you need to have quality coaching. There are some coaches at the high school and private level that aren’t properly prepared or trained to be the best coaches they need to be and this can hinder a gymnast,” Frederick said. “But in any sport you are taking a risk. I would still do gymnastics with that risk and if I had a daughter I would give her the choice to do gymnastics too.”

No matter what happens in gymnastics or any sport that ends in an injury situation, support and knowledge is key.

“In gymnastics my parents support me 100 percent. When I am injured they let me deal with it how I need to and get me what I need to be okay again,” Near said. “When teammates are down or you are down it’s good to let them do what they think is comfortable and let them get back up on their own feet. In cases of emergency our coaches are extremely important. They keep you and the other gymnasts calm. You know that it will be okay because they are there with you supporting you, no matter what.”